Friday, March 17, 2006

Bertrand Russell vs. Paulo Freire

Too many people I work with are taking CLAD courses (Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development--think "bilingual ed") and some have become enamored of Paulo Freire, an education nutball if ever there was one. His Pedagogy of the Oppressed sounds wonderful to those socialists and and other lefties who, again, see people only as groups and not as individuals.

Freire's belief was that there were two kinds of education, banking and problem-posing. Banking is what I think of education--an instructor has knowledge and teaches it to students. This is bad, according to Freire and his devotees, because someone in charge--the oppressor--has decided what the student needs to learn and merely fills that student's head with facts of the oppressor's choosing. The oppressed student has no say in this matter. Problem-posing, however, is the end-all, be-all of education. You allow the student to become a social activist who supposedly learns academic content by solving problems in his or her community. As I've said before, the lefties love this idea of turning students into social activists without ever really teaching them anything.

Bertrand Russell, however, had a different idea. According to one Kieran Egan, “Bertrand Russell, after his first disastrous experiment in organizing a school, observed that the first task of education is to destroy the tyranny of the local and immediate over the child’s imagination."

Russell is correct. The purpose of education is to get a child to see what's beyond his own nose.

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